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Ruby: A Novel by Cynthia Bond
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Ruby: A Novel

by Cynthia Bond

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56010425,454 (3.7)99
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English (105)  French (1)  All languages (106)
Showing 1-5 of 105 (next | show all)
Ruby by Cynthia Bond. I have mixed feelings about this one. It is probably my least favorite of Oprah’s book club selections. This book will not be for the weak of heart. It is dark, disturbing, graphic, grotesque, and really just a horrific tale of sexual abuse. Women and children are raped and beaten. Men are evil and demonic. There is a magical realism, voodoo, supernatural element to the book that I found weird and confusing.
All that being said, the author’s prose was brilliant, poetic, and powerful at times and it may have been necessary to include all the graphic details so the reader could understand the terrible cruelty of sexual abuse. My book club had a very good discussion about the book. It reminds me of Beloved by Toni Morrison, which I didn’t really care for either.
Ruby is the tragic heroine of the book. She is sold into prostitution at a young age and is the perfect example of how a lifetime of sexual abuse can break a person.
And then along comes Ephram, who tries to help Ruby face and overcome her past. Will she be able rebuild “the broken femur of her soul?” Can the human spirit survive such traumatic experiences? Is it possible that she can find love and peace at last? ( )
  dawnlovesbooks | Aug 21, 2018 |
I am very conflicted about this novel. The author is brilliantly gifted with a genius for writing. Her prose is beautiful, her descriptions beyond illuminating, her characters fully drawn and brought to life. The writing in this novel is luminous. The story is riveting, moving and haunting. My problem with the book is that the story is so overwhelmingly disturbing, and Bond's talents make it almost unbearably painful to read. There were many times when I wanted to put it down, get it out of my house, but I read on as the back cover promised a story of love and redemption...I needed the redemption! On Goodreads there are an unusual number of excellent, carefully written and thoughtful reviews about this novel. They are worth reading.

There has been a great deal of debate in the media lately about "trigger warnings", and I am conflicted about the subject, but this a book that no reader should embark upon without fair warning: if any or all of the following subjects will upset you as a reader, I suggest you avoid this novel; racism, lynching, sexual abuse, child abuse, child rape, child prostitution, rape, prostitution, sexual violence, incest, torture, satanic ritual abuse, abuse of the mentally ill, spousal abuse,... these topics are not merely written about in this book, they are the dark dirty nasty secrets festering in the town where the characters live and they are described so vividly that I now wish I could scrub images from my mind. It is not that I have not encountered these issues before, it is just that in this novel the onslaught is so relentless. The fact that the author works with homeless and at-risk youth, and therefore probably can draw on stories she has heard from the children she has worked with makes this even more disturbing.

If you have the courage to read this book - and it is a brilliant and important work, I suggest having a light comedic book ready to read afterwards - something by Mindy Kaling or Tina Fey, or anyone who will take your mind to happy place, you will need it! ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
Oprah pick. The book is well-written, but so raw. It was a little too raw for me right now. The characters demonstrate the best and very, very worst of mankind. I felt guilty reading about the ways that people can be so incredibly cruel to one another, especially when it involves children. ( )
  CSKteach | Jul 20, 2018 |
OH MY GAWD. ( )
  capriciousreader | Mar 20, 2018 |
Well, that was quite a ride. Beautifully written -- Bond is a marvel at the sentence level -- and magical in more ways than one... and thank God for that, because the story itself is brutal. Small towns have never been portrayed more unflatteringly, nor has church life (if you can call it that). I imagine the author might have taken some flack from some members of the Black community, as Alice Walker did with The Color Purple, and Walker's book is a stroll through the rose garden compared to this one. While I'm not sure it's for everyone, since the misogyny and violence is extreme, but it's an important book, less concerned with entertaining you than with forcing you to bear witness. Bond is one hell of a writer. ( )
  Laurenbdavis | Sep 16, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 105 (next | show all)
Amazing read! One of the best books I've ever read - hand's down.
added by Julia_Lauder | editRuby by Cynthia Bond, Julia Lauder (Apr 2, 2014)
 
Raw in its power and visceral in its impact, Ruby is not a read for the faint of heart. Scenes of graphic violence and abuse are dispensed generously, albeit with stunning prose. Bond’s style of writing is as magical as an East Texas sunrise, with phrases so deftly carved, the reader is often distracted from the brutality described by the sheer beauty of the language.

If Ruby is a love story (and it would be hard to argue otherwise) then it is one where shattered remnants of self-love must be reassembled before another kind of love can survive. And like the author’s own story, Ruby’s is the story of a woman who has found a way to live with the unbearable, who has stared her truth in the face and lived to tell the tale.
 
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For Dr. Zelema Marshall Harris, aka Mama
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Ruby Bell was a constant reminder of what could befall a woman whose shoe heels were too high.
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Book description
amazon ca :The epic, unforgettable story of a man determined to protect the woman he loves from the town desperate to destroy her, this beautiful and devastating debut heralds the arrival of a major new voice in fiction.

Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby Bell, “the kind of pretty it hurt to look at,” has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe center of the city—the darkened piano bars and hidden alleyways of the Village—all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, thirty-year-old Ruby finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town’s dark past. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.

Full of life, exquisitely written, and suffused with the pastoral beauty of the rural South, Ruby is a transcendent novel of passion and courage. This wondrous page-turner rushes through the red dust and gossip of Main Street, to the pit fire where men swill bootleg outside Bloom’s Juke, to Celia Jennings’s kitchen, where a cake is being made, yolk by yolk, that Ephram will use to try to begin again with Ruby. Utterly transfixing, with unforgettable characters, riveting suspense, and breathtaking, luminous prose, Ruby offers an unflinching portrait of man’s dark acts and the promise of the redemptive power of love.
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"Ephram Jenkins has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby, "the kind of pretty it hurt to look at," is already quite damaged, but Ephram is forcibly drawn to her. As soon as she becomes a young woman and has any power of her own, Ruby flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York City. Years later, when a funeral forces her to return home, 30-year-old Ruby will find herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town's dark past. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised and stood by him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy"--… (more)

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